Top UN court throws out Nicaragua's Gaza 'genocide' request

Lawyers from two countries clashed at the court this month, with Nicaragua saying Germany was 'pathetic' for providing weapons to Israel and aid to Gazans


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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Tue 30 Apr 2024, 7:42 PM

Last updated: Tue 30 Apr 2024, 7:55 PM

The UN's top court Tuesday threw out Nicaragua's request for emergency measures to stop Germany sending military supplies to Israel because of its action in the Gaza war.

International Court of Justice presiding judge Nawaf Salam said the circumstances presented to the court did not warrant "provisional measures".

Nicaragua hauled Germany before the ICJ to demand emergency measures to stop Berlin from sending Israel weapons and other assistance that could be used in the devastating Gaza war.

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Nicaragua accused Germany of violating the 1948 international genocide convention.

Nicaragua targeted Germany rather than Israel's main ally, the United States, because Washington did not recognise ICJ jurisdiction in the case, the capital of Nicaragua, Managua's lawyers said.

Lawyers from the two countries clashed at the court this month, with Nicaragua saying Germany was "pathetic" for providing weapons to Israel and aid to Gazans.

Berlin responded that Israel's security was at the "core" of its foreign policy and that Nicaragua had "grossly distorted" Germany's supply of military aid to Israel.

Berlin said its supply of arms to Israel was under "meticulous scrutiny" and constantly evaluated within the standards of international law.

Nicaragua requested five emergency measures, including that Germany "immediately suspend its aid to Israel, in particular its military assistance including military equipment".

The judges on Tuesday agreed with Berlin, saying "the court notes that Germany states that it has fulfilled the obligation incumbent on states party to the Genocide Convention to prevent the occurrence of genocide."

This was by "using all reasonable means at its disposal to exert its influence on Israel in order to improve the situation in Gaza."

In fact, it noted that "as stated by Germany" there had been a significant decrease in its supply of military material since November 2023.

Berlin, in a statement, welcomed the ruling at the ICJ – set up after World War II to legally resolve issues between states.

"No one is above the law. This is what guides our action," the German Foreign Ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.

Nicaragua's representative at the ICJ, Carlos Arguello, told reporters outside the courtroom that "Palestinians expected a bit more."

"On the specific order that we have requested, the court considered that for the moment there was not sufficient proof that what Germany was giving... was important for what was happening in Palestine," he said.

"In any case, if things continue or develop, Nicaragua would obviously bring the matter to the attention of the court again," he said.

The proper case however, could take months, or even years before a judgement would be handed down at the Hague-based tribunal.

The war began on October 7 with an unprecedented Hamas attack that resulted in the deaths of about 1,170 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 34,488 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to Gaza's health ministry.

In another procedure, South Africa accused Israel – which like the United States is not a member of the court – of perpetuating genocide in the Gaza Strip.

Israel "categorically" denies the South African accusations, which include responsibility for starvation.

In that case, the court called on Israel to do everything in its power to prevent genocide and recently ordered the country to "ensure urgent humanitarian assistance" in Gaza without delay.

Though ICJ decisions are binding, the court has no mechanism to enforce them. For instance, it ordered Russia to cease its invasion of Ukraine, in vain.


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